By Iman Saad
NATO has announced the suspension of all relations with Russia following the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. In its statement, NATO announced that it will suspend “all practical civilian and military cooperation” due to no sign of Moscow withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border.
According to Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Russia’s actions serve as a great threat to European security. Foreign ministers from the 28 members of the Western military alliance met in Brussels last week. They discussed ways to boost the organization’s military presence in the region to quell concerns over Russia’s actions.
According to CNN, after the NATO meeting, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “It is important for everybody in the world to understand that the NATO alliance takes seriously this attempt to change borders by force … So, that is the wake-up call.”
A joint statement released by NATO ministers announced that they would re-review NATO’s relations with Russia at its next meeting in June. However, NATO and Russia would continue to work together on anti-narcotics operations taking place in Afghanistan.
NATO and Ukraine have announced that they would intensify cooperation and promote defense reforms through training programs. Tension between Ukraine and Moscow has continued to rise and energy company Gazprom recently announced that there has been more than a 40 percent increase in the price of gas exports to Ukraine.
Rasmussen told Al-Jazeera reporters, “We are now considering all options to enhance our collective defense, including … further development of our defense plans, enhanced exercises and also appropriate deployments.” NATO is considering the option of stationing permanent forces in the former Soviet Baltic state.
According to BBC News, the United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on members of Russian President Putin’s inner circle and other political officials. In response, Russia has retaliated with its own sanctions on U.S. politicians.